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Scam Alert

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Written by Tahlia Johnson

We have been advised of scam calls being made to our external fraud department’s cardholders, which means SWSCU members could be affected. More specifically, scam callers have been identifying themselves as the “Fraud Department”, “Visa Fraud Monitoring team” and “Fraud team in Collins Street Melbourne” in an attempt to coerce a member to provide their personal, card number and transactional information.

Please be aware that our external fraud department will never attempt to confirm the full 16 digit card number on an outbound call to a member. A genuine call from the fraud department will only ever ask to confirm the last 4 digits of the card.

Although the fraud department require limited member information to confirm high risk transactions, the fraud department will always encourage a customer to contact either their relevant customer service team or the phone number printed on the back of the customer’s card, if they are ever unsure or uncomfortable with the legitimacy of the call.

Please contact us on 02 6384 1111 if you believe you have had a call like this or if you have provided your card details over the phone to someone claiming to be from SWSCU.


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Helping Your Adult Kids Be Financially Savvy

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Written by Hannah Oliver

It is human nature for parents to want to provide for their children but at some point, the “help” you may be giving them could actually be more of a hindrance to them gaining their own financial independence - stunting their financial literacy and growth.

Your financial future is at stake

The other consideration is your retirement lifestyle. If you are 50 or older, now is the time to be setting yourself up for the future and making the most of every discretionary dollar for the development of your nest egg. If you are operating the “bank of mum and dad” for your kids instead of building your retirement, it could mean you need to work longer or compromise your retirement lifestyle.

Helping them become financially savvy

So, what can you do to help your kids get a grip on their situation and gain financial responsibility?

You can give your children positive encouragement and tangible education on the financial life skills they will need. This doesn’t mean you should suddenly “cut them off”, but it does mean you need to begin a serious discussion with them about the costs of maintaining their lifestyle and determine a timeline for passing over responsibility to them.

Budgeting is the foundation

If you have been putting food on the table and a roof over their head, chances are their income has been directed toward spending on their own entertainment and enjoyment. Giving them an understanding of budgeting is critical for them to gain a broader view of what it takes to survive and prosper financially.

Fortunately, there are plenty of budgeting tools available online or through banks, which you can encourage them to use and help them to complete. This will give them an understanding of the scope and scale of spending required to live independently, as well as an appreciation of the differences between essential living expenses (such as food, utilities, communication, transport, and rent) and discretionary spending (such as eating out, entertainment, gaming, and hobbies).

Developing responsible habits

An extension of the budgeting process is to educate them on the vital importance of saving regularly from their income. Start with a simple rule of saving a set percentage of everything they earn. This can then be developed into goal-oriented saving for various objectives they consider important and worth sacrificing for.

If you do want to provide some form of financial support, rather than giving random handouts toward immediate needs, perhaps you can offer to match their savings dollar for dollar in support of something worthwhile, such as a home deposit, rental bond, or a business venture. This gives real incentive to form solid saving habits that will benefit them throughout their life.

Educating on credit is also essential as it is easy for them to quickly rack up personal debts that can demoralise them and distort their financial priorities. Analysing a month’s spending may point out where their income is being squandered or wasted.

Creating wealth slowly

Your children may view the concept of creating financial independence as something that can only happen through outrageous luck or taking huge risks for quick gain. Therefore, one of the most vital lessons you can pass on is the value and importance of creating wealth slowly.

 

Real financial independence is not the result of a lottery win or riding the back of an investment boom — rather it is the result of forming sound investment practices such as:

  • Allocating a certain proportion of your regular savings toward long-term wealth creation plans
  • Utilising available tools that accelerate wealth, such as superannuation tax incentives
  • Diversifying investments beyond bank term deposits and into a variety of asset classes that relate to your investment time horizons
  • Planning for contingencies (such as sudden loss of income or emergency expenses) by establishing an emergency savings plan and personal insurance protection plans
  • Seeking the advice of a financial adviser to coordinate all of the above, and to develop a lifelong plan and strategy for wealth creation.

 

Start the conversation now

Delaying the steps outlined here may result in an ongoing cycle of dependence that will only become harder to break if it isn’t addressed.

 

Take the next step

To discuss your financial situation, make an appointment with a Bridges financial planner. We have an established alliance with Bridges, to provide our customers with financial advice. Bridges has been helping Australians with financial advice for 30 years. A Bridges financial planner will develop a plan specifically for you; one that’s tailored to your needs and circumstances to help you achieve your goals. To make an appointment with a Bridges financial planner, call 02 6384 1111. The initial consultation is complimentary and obligation free.

 

Bridges Financial Services Pty Ltd (Bridges). ABN 60 003 474 977. ASX Participant. AFSL 240837.

This is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation and needs. Before making an investment decision based on this information, you should assess your own circumstances or consult a financial planner or a registered tax agent.

Examples are illustrative only and are subject to the assumptions and qualifications disclosed.

Part of the IOOF group

In referring customers to Bridges, South West Slopes Credit Union Ltd does not accept responsibility for any acts, omissions or advice of Bridges and its authorised representatives.

 


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Make your retirement funds go the distance

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Written by Tahlia Johnson

You only get one shot at going into retirement, so it is essential that you go in with your eyes wide open. That means being aware of where your income may be coming from, how to plan for living and recreational expenses, and making decisions that are balanced and have an eye on the long term.

 

The earlier you start preparing, the more options you will have, so here are some top tips to get the ball rolling.

 

Where do you stand now?
Even if you haven’t been especially concerned about financial planning throughout your working life, it is important to do so as you enter retirement, when you are no longer able to rely on earned income.

The first part of the planning process is to get a clear understanding of where you currently stand financially. What assets do you have and what are they worth? This includes your home, your savings and investments accounts, your superannuation, and your possessions.

 

Key dates to be aware of
The next step is to establish the key milestones as you transition to retirement. The first milestone is your ‘preservation age‘ — the age at which you can access your super. Provided you have retired from the workforce, the minimum preservation age is 55 years if you were born before July 1960. This age increases on a sliding scale up to age 60 for those born after June 1964.

The second milestone is the age at which you are eligible for the age pension. For those born before July 1952, this will be 65. For those younger than that, it can be as high as age 67, depending on your date of birth. Eligibility also depends on the income and assets tests.

Plan around your lifestyle decisions
Once you know when your super and pension income will kick in, you can start to plan your finances around the lifestyle activities you want to engage in during the potentially long years of retirement ahead. For example, you may want to:

  • Travel in the earlier stages of retirement, before settling down
  • Make some renovations around the home in the earlier years, so you don’t have to worry about them later
  • Make major recreational purchases, such as a boat or motorhome
  • Downsize your home or move to a retirement village down the track

Ideally, all of these major lifestyle decisions should be projected early, so that you can allocate funds for them, decide where those funds should be drawn from, and ensure that you have enough left to generate an ongoing income.

 

Assess your income options
Get a clear picture of where your retirement income may come from. This could include:

  • Income from super
  • Investments outside super
  • Part-time employment
  • The age pension
  • Home equity release or selling the family home

In assessing these income sources, you need to consider whether one may impact another. For example, selling the family home or working part-time may impact your age pension.

 

Take full advantage of entitlements
While the age pension on its own may not be enough to fund the lifestyle you want to enjoy, it can certainly be a handy supplement to your ongoing living income. Apart from the pension itself, there may also be other benefits, such as travel concessions, cheaper medicines, and reduced council and water rates, which can translate into a significant amount of savings every year.

Structuring your investments to maximise entitlements is therefore a critical issue and some professional financial advice can make a big difference.

 

Is work an option?
Not everyone is particularly keen on making a sudden shift from full-time work to full-time leisure, so if you are still interested in continuing to work part-time, it can help you delay drawing down on your super and other assets.

There are incentives within the social security system to encourage this, so seek advice to see how it may be a good option for you financially.

Budgeting is essential
There may be a temptation to splurge a little when you first receive a large lump sum from your super, but make sure you project your living expenses properly before taking the plunge.

More than ever, a simple budget is essential to ensure you don’t outlive your income in retirement, so ask for advice and get things in writing to make it as tangible as possible.

 

Don’t forget to include emergency funds in your budget to take care of any surprises or spikes in expenses, such as unexpected illness, a house move, or a family crisis.

 

Get advice early 
As you can see from the factors mentioned here, there are many interconnected elements to planning income and expenses for retirement. Speak to a Bridges financial planner to help put the puzzle together, structure a diversified investment strategy, maximise entitlements, and map out your lifestyle and living expense needs.

 

Take the next step

To discuss your financial situation, make an appointment with a Bridges financial planner. We have an established alliance with Bridges, to provide our customers with financial advice. Bridges has been helping Australians with financial advice for 30 years. A Bridges financial planner will develop a plan specifically for you; one that’s tailored to your needs and circumstances to help you achieve your goals. To make an appointment with a Bridges financial planner, call 02 6384 1111. The initial consultation is complimentary and obligation free.

 

Bridges Financial Services Pty Ltd (Bridges). ABN 60 003 474 977. ASX Participant. AFSL 240837.

This is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation and needs. Before making an investment decision based on this information, you should assess your own circumstances or consult a financial planner or a registered tax agent.

Examples are illustrative only and are subject to the assumptions and qualifications disclosed.

Part of the IOOF group


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Australians urged to be scam smart

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Written by Tahlia Johnson

Australia’s customer owned banking institutions are urging Australians to be scam smart as scammers ramp up activity in Australia.
Figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reveal the extent of the criminal activity, with a more than 900 per
cent increase in scam activity where criminals pretending to be from the Australian Tax Office.
To help combat the rise in scam activity, the Customer Owned Banking Association has prepared five tips for consumers to avoid
fraudsters.
1. Don’t assume that an Australian phone number means the call is legitimate. Offshore scammers use programs to change
their international number to look like a local one to convince people the call is legitimate.
2. Don’t become panicked or flustered. These scams rely on people worrying that they will be charged a fee or lose access to a
service if they don’t hand over information or money.
3. Question whether the organisation they claim to represent would actually call and threaten you. Government
departments, utility providers and law enforcement all follow due process. Phone calls that carry threats of hefty fines or
imprisonment or ask you for immediate payment in Gift Cards or sending money overseas are not genuine.
4. Never give a stranger remote access to your devices. Scammers claiming to be from utility providers will often ask you to allow
them access to your computer or device. This gives them access to all your private information and your financial details.
5. Hang up the phone. As soon as you suspect it’s a scammer on the line- hang up the phone.
The Customer Owned Banking Association’s Director of Services and Financial Crimes, Leanne Vale, said vigilance was crucial to thwart
scammers from taking your details.
“Scammers prey on people’s fear and panic. They try to convince you that you’ll either be cut off from a service like the internet or
rounded up in a paddy wagon for failing to pay an imaginary fine.
“Sadly, the people who are most vulnerable to these scammers are the elderly.
“Older Australians should feel comfortable questioning any unsolicited phone calls. If you don’t know the caller and feel they are asking
for personal information, just hang up straight away. Be sceptical these fraudsters are convincing and can also be abusive.
“You wouldn’t let a stranger into your house, or your car so don’t let strangers on the phone access your device. You’ve worked hard all
your life for your savings don’t give it to these heartless thieves.
“By being scam aware Australians can save themselves from a lot of heartache and stress.
“If in doubt, hang up the phone and visit www.scamwatch.org.au for more information.”

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How to set realistic financial goals

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Written by Tahlia Johnson

For some of us, setting financial goals may seem like an overwhelming chore that quickly ends up in the “too hard” basket.

The key to overcoming this problem is to break things into a few simple steps that will get you off the ground and set you on a steady path toward financial freedom.

Create a vision
The best way to start setting realistic financial goals is to determine what will motivate you. What are your dreams for your ideal lifestyle? What will you own? Where do you want to live? What car will you drive? What will you enjoy doing?

Whether your answers to these questions are humble or huge, the important thing is to make them as specific as possible so you can visualise yourself enjoying them.

Build positivity with quick wins
While the first step is to think long-term about your big dreams, it is important to get some smaller goals under your belt. This might be aiming to go hard on paying off your credit card balances, or to start regularly depositing a modest amount in a savings account that is earmarked purely for future investment purposes.

Reality check your spending
Many people fail to get their financial goals off the ground because they think they can rely on willpower alone to change spending habits, rather than using hard evidence about what they spend on and where changes can be made. Just one hour with your bank statements for the last 12 months will allow you to get a handle on exactly where your money is going.

You may be surprised to find a much higher proportion of your income going toward discretionary spending than you first thought, such as eating out or impulsive purchases. This exercise allows you to quickly determine which areas can be cut back on, so that you can identify funds that can be redirected toward financial growth objectives.

Save before you spend
Another quick and effective budgeting technique that can generate momentum is to follow the rule of “paying yourself first”. This simply means that the first thing you take out of your regular pay cheque is a set amount to put toward saving and investment plans before you start spending on anything else. By prioritising this one simple action, you are taking a significant step and forming an invaluable habit that will start growing your wealth, without any tedious record keeping.

Of course, more detailed budgeting should be the ideal you are aiming for, but if you wince at the thought of crunching numbers, this step will at least get you started, and deliver a sense of progress and control.

Set staged and realistic goals
Once you have taken the above small steps, you can start to make more adventurous plans for the medium to long-term. This can involve bigger-ticket financial objectives that will make a real difference to your wealth creation, such as paying down your mortgage faster, setting targets on your superannuation nest egg, or building a diverse investment portfolio.

Ask the experts
One phone call could be the start of some profound and exciting changes in your goal-setting journey. Engaging the help of a financial planner can open up a whole range of opportunities and resources that can benefit your financial growth. This includes a structured approach to examining your lifestyle priorities and investment preferences, so you can map out a more comprehensive plan targeting a variety of goals and take the worry out of making investment decisions. You can lean on their research capabilities to create a durable ongoing plan that will help you reach your goals more effectively.

Take the next step to discuss your financial situation, make an appointment with a Bridges financial planner. We have an established alliance with Bridges, to provide our customers with financial advice. Bridges has been helping Australians with financial advice for 30 years. A Bridges financial planner will develop a plan specifically for you; one that’s tailored to your needs and circumstances to help you achieve your goals. To make an appointment with a Bridges financial planner, call 02 6384 1111. The initial consultation is complimentary and obligation free.

Bridges Financial Services Pty Ltd (Bridges). ABN 60 003 474 977. ASX Participant. AFSL 240837.

This is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation and needs. Before making an investment decision based on this information, you should assess your own circumstances or consult a financial planner or a registered tax agent.

Examples are illustrative only and are subject to the assumptions and qualifications disclosed.

Part of the IOOF group

In referring customers to Bridges, South West Slopes Credit Union Ltd does not accept responsibility for any acts, omissions or advice of Bridges and its authorised representatives.


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